‘We’re Beginning To See The Price We May Have To Pay For The Impunity In Our Party’
By June, the Senate Leader, Chief Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) will be the only one out of the six ranking principal officers that will not return. Apparently unhappy with way and manner he was treated during the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries, he decided to lie low and calm, although still committed to the course of the party. He speaks on PDP, democracy and other issues.
YOU are not contesting any elections, so why the large crowd that attended the reception by your supporters?
First of all, I am deeply touched by this show of affection, because usually, given our environment, where you are in a kind of situation I am in, they just take their leave and move to greener pastures.
But to see them, I am deeply touched. I have told them that I remain in the PDP, which is the party that has given me the opportunities, and I will remain a loyal member.
Secondly, I remain in politics; I am not leaving politics. This is just a bend on the road; it is not the end of the road.
So, I will remain in politics to lend my voice to the people and continue to contribute my quota.
Your party is threatened by the outcome of its primaries?
The first thing I noticed after the primaries of the major political parties, which are the PDP and APC, is that there was a lot of traffic outside PDP to the All Progressive Congress (APC), and there was no corresponding traffic from the APC to PDP.
It just shows that the processes in one party were more acceptable and the processes in the other party were less acceptable.
Where the process is transparent, people are bound to accept the result, but where it is not transparent, it will bring dissent and resentment. So, you now begin to manage tension and resentment to a level that should not be.
Our challenge is to ensure that the parties enjoy internal democracy, because they are the vehicles through which democracy is delivered.
So, if you don’t have internal democracy within your party, you cannot give what you don’t have.
It is believed that the legislature has not been able to help institute internal democracy in political parties through proper legislation. What is the way out?
We have been tinkering with the legal infrastructure for some time. Sometimes ago, INEC had a major role to play in party primaries, but people complained about its dictatorship in that process and so we decided to reduce its role to mere observation.
But it now appears that we did not get it right. So, we just keep tinkering, but the essential thing is that the basic legal infrastructure for internal party democracy is there. It is an attitude thing.
We have not yet developed the right attitude to say, let there be a level playing ground and a fair chance for all to compete.
The National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, was recently reported as noting that the party uses people and dumps them. Why is so?
It is the party itself that should act. The President himself is the president of Nigeria. The party has its leadership and I am sure people were aware of the goings on in the party.
The party just appeared to be helpless at that point in time. I just hope that helplessness would not be at a high price to the party. But the time has come for us to advocate for internal democracy in political parties.
That is the way to go, because clearly the impunity is not sustainable at all. The way we are going, it can only take us for a short distance.
Do you think Cross River would lose anything for losing a sensitive position as Senate Leader?
Well, a few months ago, we inspected only 41 out of 75 ongoing projects in the state. I am worried whether or not they will be able to secure funding for them. A lot of them may end up being abandoned. That is the immediate implication.
Two, the position of the senate is quite a conspicuous one, because as Senate Leader, you are the liaison with the executive and the party. You sit as the chairman of the party’s caucus.
But now, you lose that visibility. The voice gives you some mileage, which we are losing.
For me, it is the loss of the argument against marginalisation. It means that we, as a state, can no longer complain about marginlisation, because they will say marginalise how? When we gave you, you rejected it or the person?
When you take what happened elsewhere, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip and my deputy were unopposed. It was only Cross River that said, no, we don’t want.
How do you tomorrow turn around and make any argument for marginalisation when the country had given you an opportunity and you say you don’t want.
I am not bitter about the exercise at all. I don’t have the capacity for bitterness. These are all worldly things. I have made peace with everybody and myself.
The opposition parties in the state are waxing stronger, apparently as a result of the PDP primaries fallout. What is the prospect of your party in coming elections?
We would have to work far harder than we have done in the past. The new strength of opposition is from members of PDP, who felt shortchanged and just moved there to seek an avenue for fulfilling their aspirations So, it is we in the PDP that have given strength to the opposition and I tell you what my worry is.
In the past two or so, there was hardly any opposition party that was able to field candidates in all positions. Today, we have several that have candidates for every position.